Protesters Try to Storm Baghdad's Green Zone

Security forces stopped them from reaching Danish embassy
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 22, 2023 6:37 AM CDT
Protesters Try to Storm Baghdad's Green Zone
Protesters gather in Baghdad's Tahrir Square, , Saturday, July 22, 2023, following reports of the burning of a Koran carried out by a ultranationalist group in front of the Iraqi Embassy in Copenhagen.   (AP Photo/Ali Jabar)

Hundreds of protesters attempted to storm Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, which houses foreign embassies and the seat of Iraq's government, early Saturday following reports an ultranationalist group burned a copy of the Koran in front of Iraq's embassy in Copenhagen. Security forces pushed back protesters, who blocked the Jumhuriya bridge leading to the Green Zone, preventing them from reaching the Danish embassy, the AP reports. The protest came two days after people angered by the planned burning of the Islamic holy book in Sweden stormed the Swedish embassy in Baghdad and occupied the diplomatic post for several hours, waving flags and signs showing the influential Iraqi Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, and setting a small fire. The embassy staff had been evacuated a day earlier.

Hours later, Iraq's prime minister cut diplomatic ties with Sweden in protest over the desecration of the Koran. An Iraqi asylum-seeker who burned a copy of the Koran during a demonstration last month in Stockholm had threatened to do the same thing again Thursday but ultimately stopped short of setting fire to the book. He did, however, kick and step on it, and did the same with an Iraqi flag and a photo of Sadr and of Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

On Friday afternoon, thousands protested peacefully in Iraq and other Muslim-majority countries. Also on Friday, according to Danish media reports, members of the ultranationalist group Danske Patrioter burned a copy of the Koran and an Iraqi flag in front of the Iraqi Embassy in Copenhagen, livestreaming the action on Facebook. Copenhagen police spokeswoman Trine Fisker told the AP that "a very small demonstration" with less than 10 people took place Friday afternoon across the street from the Iraqi embassy and that a book was burned. The incident prompted the protests in Baghdad overnight.

(More Iraq stories.)

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